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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

The Midwest covers a huge swath right in the center of the U.S., and includes 12 states, according to the Census Bureau: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Though unflatteringly referred to at times as “flyover states,” you’d be remiss not to spend some time checking out the amazing experiences these underrated states have to offer. Just be careful, you may love the region so much that you decide to visit every year or even fall in love with one of these states and decide to call it home—it happens all the time! But just remember, you don’t really know the Midwest until you have these iconic experiences. Think we’ve missed something? Tell us in the comments below.

RELATED: 5 awesome island vacations—in the Midwest!

  1. Ride the Black Aconda at Noah’s Ark in the Wisconsin Dells.

2. Kiss the bricks on a tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500.

3. Snap a selfie in the reflection of “The Bean” in Chicago.

4. Marvel at Calatrava’s sailboat-like architecture at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

5. Go to the “Great Minnesota Get Together,” aka the State Fair.

6. Spot buffalo on a roadtrip through the Badlands of South Dakota.

7. Follow the Yellow Brick Road to marvel at 2,000-plus pieces of memorabilia at the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas.

8. Instagram Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

9. Climb Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes, then roll all the way down.

10. Get up early to shop the farmers market in the Old Market district in Omaha.

11. Enjoy the quiet beauty—and enchanting wild horses, prairie dogs, and bison—in North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

12. Do the “Iowa wave” at the Children’s Hospital at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

13. Survey all of St. Louis‘ City Museum from a cage 6 stories up.

14. Talk about Lake of the Ozarks like it’s The Hamptons.

15. Get the meat sweats at one of Kansas‘s great ‘cue joints, like Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que.

16. Compare Branson to Las Vegas.

17. Pose with a pitchfork to re-create Grant Wood’s famous painting in front of the American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa.

18. Snack on squeaky cheese, aka cheese curds, from Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha.

Cheese curds with some tasty ranch on the side.

19. Sip a brandy old fashioned at an iconic Wisconsin Supper Club like Ishnala Supper Club in Lake Delton.

20. Cheer for (or against) the Cubs at Chicago’s historic Wrigley Field.

Chicago's Wrigley Field

21. Flinch at the roaring flames at a genuine Door County fish boil in Wisconsin.

22.  Suddenly become a “car person” at The Henry Ford in Detroit.

23. Shriek yourself hoarse on the Maverick at Cedar Point in Sandusky.

24. Do the one-two punch of both Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse in South Dakota.

25. Watch the sunset over Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Park in Northwest Indiana.

26. Take a shot at, or be a spectator at RAGBRAI, Iowa’s week-long bike race that spans the state.


Tagged: Chicago, Chicago, Feature, Michigan, Midwest, Milwaukee, Minnesota, South Dakota, St. Louis

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Compass + Twine
Sarah Driggs and Lindsay Ridenour are the story-tellers behind the NYC-based luxury travel blog, Compass + Twine. Follow along on Instagram @compassandtwine as they unearth some of the best hotels and travel experiences around the globe. From scenic landscapes to local cafés, they reveal the true character of a destination, always highlighting the best place to stay on .

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